When it comes to February, there is no doubt that love is truly in the air, and with the upcoming arrival of Valentine’s Day we should celebrate and share our love for the earth.
Valentine’s day is a popular, annual celebration in which we may gift our loved ones to show our affection for each other, however each year Valentine’s day contributes a surplus of 9 millions kilograms of CO2 into the atmosphere as well as a sizeable amount of waste.
Around 40 million people in the UK celebrate Valentine’s Day each year, and spend around £1.3 billion pounds on novelty gifts, cards, balloons, chocolates, teddy bears and other basic gifts that are likely to be thrown away after a short period of time. The negative impact of this consumerism is that most gifts, especially plastic ones, will remain in our environment and landfill for hundreds of years. For example, balloons take 450 years to bio-degrade.
But fear not! This celebration of love does not have be tainted by the substantial generation of waste. Below are some simple ways that you can opt for a more sustainable romantic gesture.
- Be mindful about purchasing single use novelty items, and plastic wrapped gifts. Why not make your own cards, ditch the wrapping paper and balloons, and make paper decorations instead of confetti. You can buy sustainable gifts, or potted flowers rather than those plastically wrapped.
- Relax with your date at home and skip the expensive car trip out. You can star graze, light some candles, make a home cinema or go for a romantic, outdoor nature walk to reduce your Valentine’s Day carbon emissions.
- Impress your partner and show off your culinary skills by cooking a vegan dinner for the evening. Not forgetting that some red wine is not vegan, so it is always better to double check
Love your neighbourhood litter picks
We have established that Valentine’s Day generates a lot of waste, which is why our local Reading community is doing something about it. If you are still interested in taking part in one of the local litter picks in the Reading area, any university or RUSU staff, students or anyone from the local community can come and take part this month.
The next litter pick will be held on the 15th of February at the university campus, and the last litter pick will take place on the 23rd of February across the Grange Avenue area.
To find out more and sign up to the Reading litter picks, please click on this link: Love Your Neighbourhood Litter Picks (office.com)
University waste management
The University of Reading is committed to an efficient waste management strategy, which allows only 2% of all our waste to end up in landfill. We work hard to ensure that the university minimises the impact of waste on the environment by adopting and promoting the waste hierarchy: reduce, re-use, recycle, recover and dispose.
Our 2021 target for 60% of all our waste generated to be re-used has been met, and exceeded, meaning that we reuse at least 11 tonnes of waste per annum. The university also works with a company called ‘Select’ that processes and recycles most of our waste. You can find out more by clicking this link: Waste Processing | Waste Disposal- SELECT (selectenviro.co.uk)
Julia Cope, Sustainability Services
Learn to love a low-waste Valentine’s Day | Valentine’s Day waste (businesswaste.co.uk) 09/02/23.
Valentine’s Day and Plastic Pollution – Plastic Oceans International 09/02/23
The Environmental Impact of Valentine’s Day (waste360.com) 09/02/23
Sustainability Report 2021-2022 (reading.ac.uk) 09/02/23